Bloomberg Tax
June 4, 2020, 8:00 PM

Performance Expert: Check In With Workers to Boost Productivity

Jeffrey Rothholz
Jeffrey Rothholz

Employer engagement is a necessary precursor for obtaining strong results from employees, a performance expert said June 3.

Studies have shown that the frequency of attention paid, ideally at least weekly, to employees can significantly increase their focus and productivity, said Amy Leschke-Kahle, vice president of performance acceleration at Marcus Buckingham Co., which develops management training programs and workplace tools.

Engagement occurs by checking in with teams and team members to discuss workers’ near-term goals and emotional needs, Leschke-Kahle said. Getting attention from an employee’s most important co-worker, typically a supervisor or team leader, amplifies the positive effect of the check-ins, she said at the annual American Payroll Association, which was held online because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Individual engagement is especially important these days because many employees are teleworking during the virus pandemic, Leschke-Kahle said. Checking in with workers is a way to achieve “extraordinary work and extraordinary outcomes in these extraordinary times,” she said.

Check In vs. Check Up

Employee engagement starts with getting employees to reflect on and evaluate their efforts and productivity before a weekly check-in, which should last about five minutes, Leschke-Kahle said.

Employees should consider what they liked or disliked about the recent workweek, the values they added and the progress made, and what individual strengths were used, Leschke-Kahle said. Supervisors and team leaders should ask employees about their priorities and whether a manager can assist them. Emotions and feelings should be discussed, she said.

Employers should remember that the questions frame the discussion, but are not a check up, with the goal of providing positive reinforcement for the employee,
Leschke-Kahle said.

Benefits of Attention

Based on Leschke-Kahle’s research, an essential thing that team leaders do is to pay attention to their team members.

In a study, Leschke-Kahle used an engagement-pulse survey to measure employees’ engagement concerning the attention they received from team leaders.

Results showed a 126% increase in engagement between workers who received no attention and those who received weekly attention, Leschke-Kahle said. Of the employees receiving weekly attention, 52% reported being fully engaged, she said.

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